Let’s Cook Something New: Braised Red and White Russian Kale

Thought I’d try to plant something new in my autumn garden in September. Red and White Russian Kale are new to me and they are turning out to be star performers in my garden. This sent me scrambling to learn how to cook the kale. Looks like Braised Kale should be easy.

There are many varsities of kale such as curly leaf, bumpy leaf (Tuscan Kale, lacinato and dinosaur kale), plain leaf and feathery-type leaf. Some kale is ornamental and tough–don’t try to eat these varieties. Red and White Russian Kale varieties have flatter leaves with a curly edge, oak-like leaf. They are tender and sweet, especially when cooked. Red Russian Kale is easy to identify by the red tinged stems.

Kale dates back to the Middle Ages where it was one of the most common vegetables eaten in Europe. In ancient Greece and Rome it was used as a medicinal food source. Kale was brought to this country by early settlers. I remember eating canned kale in elementary school and hating it. Never ate fresh kale when growing up. So perhaps I should put those bad memories behind and try kale again.

Kale is extremely nutritious and healthy. It is low in calories and high in fiber. The main nutritional value comes from the high levels of vitamins and minerals: Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, copper, folic acid, Vitamin B6 and calcium. And as a cruciferous vegetable, kale has plenty of antioxidants–carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin–and flavonoids. Let’s just say that kale is perhaps one of the most nutritious vegetables around.

Braised Kale

I decided to start with a simple recipe — Braised Kale — and a variation adding tomatoes. Cooking tenderizes the kale and it becomes sweeter with cooking. You don’t really need to add much water, the leaves produce plenty of water while cooking. The center stem is rather tough; most sources suggested removing it first. This was easy. Simply run your finger down the stem and the leaves come off.

Then I rolled the kale up and chopped the leaves into small pieces.

Here are the rest of the ingredients for this recipe. I made two variations – in the second batch I added diced tomatoes with juice and chicken bouillon. The rest of the ingredients are onion and garlic, red pepper flakes (just a pinch), salt and black pepper.

I braised the kale in a heavy skillet in a small amount of oil over low-medium heat. No need to add water unless the kale burns. Just braise slowly.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer as long as you wish. Very easy and tasty!

One thing to remember is that kale cooks down to a much smaller volume. Here is about 4 ounces of kale; you really need at least 8 ounces to serve 4 people. 

But don’t worry if you over-estimate. Just save the left overs for a really easy supper.

Braised Russian Kale with or without Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fresh Red or White Russian Kale
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water

Method and Steps

  1. Wash, rinse and drain each leaf of kale removing any damaged leaves. Remove center stems by running your hand down the stem. Stack leaves and roll into a tight cylinder. Slice crosswise and then chop each roll into smaller pieces.
  2. Heat about 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in heavy skillet. Add the kale, onion and garlic. Toss and stir until kale is coated with oil. Reduce heat to low-medium and braise partially covered for 15 minutes or so until the kale wilts and the onion is cooked. Stir often and add small amounts of water, if needed, to prevent scorching. Cook longer if desired.
  3. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and stir to combine and continue to cook 2-5 minutes longer.

Braised kale is ready to serve. For variation with tomatoes:

  1. Prepare kale as above.
  2. Add diced tomatoes with juice and 1 cup chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook about 15 minutes on low heat, uncovered, until the juices evaporate off.

Thought you might like to visit my backyard. Here’s my Dachshund puppy, Bonnie, watching guard. We have new neighbors who moved in yesterday in the distant yard with three huge dogs (2 Rottweilers and a Doberman Pinscher). So far these dogs don’t seem anxious to investigate. But they could easily leap over the fence. Hum, brings a new element to life with a puppy.

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